Re-engaging with the West African ethnographic archive
Nzu, orhue, sacred chalk
The areas in which Northcote Thomas worked as a Government Anthropologist in Nigeria and Sierra Leone have, of course, changed a great deal in the 105 years since the end of his last tour. During 18 months of fieldwork, retracing…
A government anthropologist at a meeting of chiefs to discuss a land dispute. Nneni, Southern Nigeria, 1911.…
Between 1909 and 1915, Northcote Thomas led four extensive anthropological surveys in Southern Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Explore the journeys on Google Maps.
The [Re:]Entanglements project has been researching and rearticulating the collections originally assembled by the anthropologist N. W. Thomas in the early years of the twentieth century in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. What does this remarkable ethnographic archive mean for different
Between 1909 and 1915, Northcote Thomas led four extensive anthropological surveys in Southern Nigeria and Sierra Leone, West Africa. We have reconstructed Thomas’s travels from fieldnotes, letters and information associated with his photographs, sound recordings and collections. Explore the itineraries
One of the main objectives of the [Re:]Entanglements project has been to bring copies of the photographs and sound recordings made by Northcote Thomas in Nigeria and Sierra Leone between 1909 and 1915 back to the communities whose heritage they
[Re:]Entanglements: Colonial Collections in Decolonial Times
Visit the exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Cambridge, UK
22 June 2021 to 17 April 2022, Free entry
Over the last few years, the [Re:]Entanglements project has been re-engaging with a remarkable ethnographic archive – including objects, photographs, sound recordings, botanical specimens, published work and fieldnotes – assembled by the colonial anthropologist, Northcote W. Thomas, in Southern Nigeria and Sierra Leone between 1909 and 1915. As well as better understanding the historical context in which these materials were gathered, the project seeks to examine their significance in the present. What do these archives and collections mean for different communities today? What actions do they make possible? How might we creatively explore their latent possibilities?
The project is being led by Paul Basu at SOAS University of London and involves many partnerships in the UK, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and beyond. These include the many institutions across which this ethnographic archive has been dispersed, including the Nigerian National Museum, Lagos, the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the British Library Sound Archive, the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the UK National Archives.
New articles and resources are constantly being added to the website. If you are interested in finding out more or would like to get involved please contact us! Join the project Facebook Group and contribute to the debates about colonial collections in decolonial times.